Category Archives: Uncategorized

All in the Family ;-)

Family PhotosEaster and Passover will soon be upon us. Whether you celebrate one, the other, both, or neither, you know it’s a time for family gatherings. And that puts me in mind of…

…a quiz!  I don’t want to hear it! You know you always need to come here prepared! ;-)

We’re all deeply affected by the families we grew up in, and the ones we create. Crime-fictional sleuths are no different. And as a dedicated crime fiction fan, you know all about those sleuths’ parents, siblings and so on, don’t you? Or do you? Take this handy quiz and find out. Match each question to the correct answer. At the end of the quiz, submit your answers and see how well you have done. You can also go back and check your answers to see which ones you got correct.

Note: To those of you who tried to take the quiz and weren’t able to access it, I’m truly sorry. I know that’s frustrating. I believe all is well now, so please give it a go!

Ready? Open the family ‘photo album to begin…if you dare!  ;-)




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Ad-ding to the World of Publishing ;-)

AdsinBooksNot long ago I got the sort of telephone call that every author loves: Tiffany Lampe from BestBooks Publishing invited me to her office for a meeting about my work. I was very excited about this, as you can imagine, and I got all of my ‘book pitch’ materials together.

When I arrived at BestBooks, a friendly receptionist showed me to a seat and told me Tiffany would be ready for me soon. As I sat down, I couldn’t help looking around the waiting area. It was quite attractive, with plum and grey carpet and comfortable light-grey padded chairs. I also noticed something else: instead of the usual institutional-style prints on the walls, there were ‘photos of different companies’ logos. I thought that was a little unusual, but I didn’t have time to reflect on it. Just then the door between the waiting area and the offices opened and Tiffany walked in. After introducing herself, she thanked me for coming.
‘We’re really excited about your work,’ she said.
‘Thank you,’ I answered. What author doesn’t want to hear that?

As we got to Tiffany’s office, she said, ‘I hope you don’t mind that I’ve invited Justin Tyme to join us. He’s got some great ideas and I think you’ll want to hear what he has to say.’
‘That’s fine.’
We went into the office, where Tiffany introduced me to Justin. As we shook hands, I noticed that the walls in this office had logo prints, too. Then we settled into seats. Tiffany started the conversation.
‘We think your work has real potential. It’ll need some editing of course.’
‘Of course,’ I said. After all, just about any story can be improved.
‘We’ll talk about the content and characters soon. Right now, I’d like you to hear what Justin has to say about your book.’

I turned to Justin. ‘Thanks, Tiffany,’ he smiled. ‘I don’t know if Tiffany told you, Margot,’ he said turning towards me, ‘but I represent Pepsico.’
‘No, she didn’t,’ I answered. This was odd. What was a Pepsico representative doing at a publishing meeting?
‘Yes, and we at Pepsico are committed to supporting great books and talented authors, so I’m happy to work with you and Tiffany on your project.’
Well, I’m always open to hearing good ideas, so I said, ‘I’m sure your input will be helpful.’
‘I’m glad you see it that way, Margot. I think your work’s great – just great. A real thriller with lots of grit and plenty of nasty twists in it. Terrific demented serial killer too.’
‘Erm – that’s not really the way I’d describe my Joel Williams books.’
‘The point is,’ Justin waved his hand, ‘you’ve got some good stuff. We can get your work into millions of homes.’
‘Really?’ Now, that was, as the saying goes, too good to be true. Still, I won’t deny it piqued my interest.
‘Sure! That’s where our brand names come in. Pepsico has one of the largest brand collections in the world. Quaker, Walkers, Lipton, Mirinda, they’re all quality products that millions of people trust.’
‘I’m sorry. I’m not sure I understand.’
‘Let me explain how we’d work things, Margot. We sponsor your work, and we let Tiffany and her team take care of editing, printing, and so on. You get your books distributed all over. Doesn’t that sound great, Margot?’
‘But sponsorship usually means advertisers put in logos and messages, that sort of thing, right?’
‘Exactly. In return for all of that marketing and financial support, we place logos and ads in your books. You know, ‘’This page brought to you by…’ Oh, and there are ‘photos and messages between chapters too. We even have video inserts for e-books.’

Now I saw where this was going, and it wasn’t a place I liked. ‘I’m sorry, but I really don’t think that would work. From my experience, readers don’t want their novels interrupted by commercial messages and logos. They want to get caught up in the story.’
‘And they will be. We don’t cut much of your story out. We just abridge it a bit so there’s room for our messages.’
‘But that would change the story.’
‘Not the core of it,’ Justin patted my shoulder in what he must have thought was a gesture of reassurance. I didn’t see it that way.

Tiffany noticed my facial expression and broke in. ‘You know, Margot, we’ve found Pepsico to be a great partner for publishing. We can work with a lot more authors than we would without their support. And as an author, you get a lot more reach than you do now.’
‘But what would that do to quality?’
‘Quality?’ Justin asked.
‘Yes. If one of your brands takes over the sponsorship, then the publishing decision could be more about advertising revenue than about whether the work is good.’
‘But what does that matter if your books are being sold everywhere?’

I was not happy at the direction this conversation was taking. I looked to Tiffany for support, but she said, ‘We’ve been seeing some great sales numbers since we teamed up with Pepsico. It’s an exciting new way to do publishing. So, what do you say, Margot? Would you like to be a part of it all?’
I thought about it for a moment. I imagined a soft drink ad being placed in one of my books just at the point where the killer is about to be caught. ‘You know, I think I’m going to explore other options…’


You are now invited to collect your disbelief at the door as you go. Thank you.



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Crime Fiction News Break


Links You’ll Want

Left Coast Crime

Killer Crime Festival

Wellcome Collection London 

London Book & Screen Week

Hallmark Films/Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise 

New Sherlock Holmes novels from HarperCollins

Dean Street Press

Crime Book Club

Rebecca Bradley


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Checking In, Checking Out

Checking In Checking Out‘Passport and boarding pass, Ma’am?’ said the expressionless security officer.
‘Yes of course. Sorry.’ Désirée fumbled in her handbag for her passport, and then showed it and her boarding pass. She’d let her mind wander as she shuffled along with the other people waiting to pass through the security checkpoint. She pulled herself back to the present as the officer glanced at her, at the passport, and then back at her. With a murmured thanks, the officer handed her documents to her and Désirée put them back into her handbag.

When she got to the conveyor belt, she took off her shoes and placed them in one of the plastic trays along with her handbag and small toiletry kit. She pulled her laptop out of her suitcase’s front pouch and put it in another tray. Finally she placed her weekender suitcase on the conveyor belt behind the plastic trays and pushed everything towards the luggage scanner. Then she took her place behind three other people waiting to go through the metal detector.

Two of them went through quickly enough, but it took the third one three tries; by the time it was Désirée’s turn, she was losing her patience. She muttered something unflattering about stupid Los Angelenos and walked through the metal detector. She would be so glad to get out of here. The weather in Los Angeles was definitely better than Montréal’s weather, especially the first week of March. But she hated the place.

It didn’t matter much, though, she thought to herself. Her boss, Simon, had told her that this would be her last trip to the States for a while. They’d learned all they needed about their biggest US competitor, especially with what she’d gotten on this trip. Now she’d probably be sent somewhere else once her company targeted its next threat.

She smiled as she went to the conveyor belt to pick up her things. Just because she was still new at this job didn’t mean she couldn’t do it well. Nobody’d had the slightest idea she’d managed to find out all that she had. Simon would be pleased; she might even get a promotion. The thought made this miserable trip to this horrible city worthwhile.

Désirée slipped on her shoes and picked up her suitcase and toiletry kit. Then her stomach lurched. Where was her laptop? What the hell had happened to her laptop? She glanced frantically up and down the belt: there was no sign of it. She let out a stream of Québécois French invective as she pushed trays, suitcases and jackets aside to see if the laptop had ended up underneath something. It hadn’t. She rushed up to the nearest security officer.
‘My laptop! It’s been stolen!’
‘All right, step over here, please. We’ll send out word.’ The officer’s tone was not encouraging. And there wasn’t much hope, really. Even with security cameras it would be hard to work out who’d taken the laptop, much less catch the person before he left the airport. And it didn’t help matters that Désirée couldn’t even describe anyone else who’d gone through the metal detector – not even the guy right in front of her. Who pays attention? She prepared herself for a long wait and a lot of paperwork.

As if that wasn’t enough, she knew it was not going to go down well with Simon. She’d heard stories of what happened to people who made a mess of this kind of thing. It was, to say the least, not pretty. She’d landed herself in serious trouble.

A short shuttle ride away, Ray and Tory sat in Ray’s room at the EazyRest Motel. It was a perfect meeting-up spot, and wasn’t expensive. Tory turned the laptop on as Ray started going through the rest of their haul. They were an experienced team. Tory knew how to be just hapless enough to hold up everyone waiting for the metal detector without being obvious. Ray had the quickest hands there were. To them, anything on scanner belts was easy pickings.
‘That thing work, Tory?’
‘Yeah. Damnit, though, it’s password protected.’
‘Whatever. Javier can clean the hard drive. We’ll get plenty for it.’
‘What else’d we get?’
‘Couple hundred bucks, a tablet, and two ‘phones this time.’
‘Not bad.’

For the next few minutes, the two men sorted everything and packed it into the empty suitcase Ray had left in the room. A quick trip to the car to stow it and they’d head back to the airport. They both stopped as they heard the knock on the door. They looked at each other and Ray shrugged. ‘Yeah?’ Tory called out.
‘Housekeeping,’ a voice responded.
They looked around the room. Everything was stowed. Tory walked over and opened the door. The two shots were so quiet that no-one heard them.

Camille surveyed the room in disgust. Amateurs! Hadn’t they ever heard of GPS locators in computers? She couldn’t care less about the other stuff; all she wanted was the laptop. Why the hell Simon had let that rookie do the job was beyond her. Oh, well, Désirée would sweat it out for a while and learn soon enough. Good thing for the company that Simon was a careful man who planned for everything. Camille dropped the gun in her pocket, picked up the laptop, glanced around the room once more and left, closing the door behind her. She felt bad for the real housekeeping staff; they’d have a hell of a mess to clean up later.


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I Read It in the Paper Today*

Untrue CrimeSometimes, the crime stories that capture our imagination most aren’t fictional. It’s interesting to think about the way crime writers are inspired by those stories and sometimes use them to spark their own work. Today, I am honoured and so pleased to be visiting Sue Coletta’s terrific crime writing blog, where I’ll be talking about just such stories. Please come pay me a visit there, and share your thoughts about what’s been called ‘untrue crime.’

And while you’re there, do have a look around Sue’s excellent blog. It’s a fabulous resource for crime writers, and includes some terrific posts on lots of different aspects of writing in that genre. If you write crime fiction, you want to learn from Sue.

NOTE: The title of this post is a line from John Fogerty’s Headlines.


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